Tuesday, 1 December 2020
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, Revelation 6:15
The words of the previous verses described the scene of the world coming apart at its seams – an earthquake, the stars falling, the sky receding, mountains and islands being removed from their places. Now, John describes the effects upon man who dwells on this trembling earth. They will do their own trembling.
In his words, he will provide a list of seven categories of men. The list is intended to be an all-inclusive list. As a side note, the list does vary between manuscripts by either changing the order or the word used to describe a certain category. However, the changes are minimal. In the end, it is a list intended to convey the idea of the complete range of categories of men.
A list from the society at the time of Isaiah, as seen in Isaiah 3, follows a similar thought to John’s words here in the New Testament –
“The mighty man and the man of war,
The judge and the prophet,
And the diviner and the elder;
3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man,
The counselor and the skillful artisan,
And the expert enchanter.” Isaiah 3:2, 3
The words of Revelation identify the categories according to the Greek descriptions of men. Understanding this, John begins the verse by saying, “And the kings of the earth.” These are those leaders who have sovereign authority over their lands. Even today, kings reign in countries of the world. The Greek word is derived from a root signifying a foundation of power. Such men sit in authority over their domains.
Next are “the great men.” These would be comparable to our presidents, prime ministers, dictators, etc. They are those who were elected to office or who gained their rule through force, but who are not considered kings. Outside of Revelation, the word is only found in Mark 6:21 where it is variously translated as “lords,” “great men,” “nobles,” and etc.
Next are “the rich men.” This category of men is obvious even in today’s world. They are people who have immense wealth and can wield that wealth behind the scenes to bring about their agendas. They have authority in media and access to their leaders in a way that others don’t.
John next identifies “the commanders.” These are known in Greek as chiliarchs. They are high military officers who exercise the military powers of their nations. Some manuscripts reverse the order of “the rich men” and “the commanders.”
The next category is “the mighty men.” The Greek reads dunatos, meaning powerful or capable. As a man, he is a powerful warrior. Here, some manuscripts say ischuros instead of dunatos. It is another word that signifies a mighty or powerful warrior. These words refer to people who exercise power that is not specifically military in nature, and yet their power is of great strength – lower levels of governmental authority, industry, etc. may fall under this term.
From there, John notes “every slave.” The word is doulos, and it signifies a bond man or a slave. It is a designation of anyone who generally exerts himself and his efforts on behalf of another. This can be applied to servants, but it surely even extends to blue-collar workers who are kept in the bonds of low-level work just to make ends meet.
The last of the seven refers to “every free man.” The Greek word is eleutheros. It signifies free, delivered from obligation, exempt, uninhibited, and so on. This would then apply to the rest of the people on earth – self-employed, small business owners, even the retired who are living in an uninhibited way.
Of this all-inclusive list of men, it says they “hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains.” The words take the reader back to Isaiah 2. There he says –
“They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.” Isaiah 2:19
A similar sentiment is repeated in Isaiah 2:21 speaking of the “clefts of the rocks” and the “crags of the rugged rocks.” When the great cataclysm mentioned in the preceding verses occurs, all will know that God is sovereign over His creation. All of their power, position, and wealth won’t be able to save them in that time. They will hide themselves in terror from what is coming upon them.
Life application: In Ecclesiastes, we are told that things repeat themselves and that there is nothing new under the sun. Going back to Isaiah, we see that this is true. Man fails to learn, and the cycles of horror that come upon him repeat themselves. The Bible tells us of these things to wake us up to the nature of the Lord and the terror that will come upon us if we reject Him.
Unfortunately, the world looks at God as a cosmic pushover who overlooks sin, will accept any path to Him, and maybe grades man on some type of bell curve. As most people think they are better than the next guy, the bell curve of being on God’s good side is always perceived to be true of each individual.
But God has spoken. He does not overlook sin, He has provided one and only one path of restoration, and there is only one grade that is acceptable – absolute perfection. And the only way to obtain each of these aspects of what is required is to come to Him through Jesus Christ. Through Him, sin is forgiven. In Him is the one path to the Father. And because of His imputed righteousness, man is once again deemed pure and spotless before God. Come to God through His offer of reconciliation. Come today to JESUS.
Lord, thank You that the rapture means that Your redeemed will be spared from the terrifying calamities to come. Even the great and mighty will be fearful and hide at what is coming, but we who have Christ will be secure in Your glorious presence through it all. Thank You Lord God! Amen.